KSKA reporter Anne Hillman stopped by Airport Heights Elementary last week to tour the new facility and ask questions about the ASD Lottery.

Here’s her report: http://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/03/02/in-anchorage-education-lottery-lots-of-winners/

We’re getting down to the wire for the start of school and the renovation staging is in full swing.

There has been a lot of progress in prepping the school for learning these last weeks and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Our first priority, as always, is to make sure the site is safe for students, families, and staff. Here’s a list of things that have been underway:

  • Water has been turned back on and all the lines have been sanitized for public use
  • Asphalt drives and cement walkways have been completed
  • Walls have been installed in the old library to make new teaching spaces for the coming year.
  • The temporary kitchen has been completed in room 20
  • Relo village phones and intercoms are being installed and are nearly ready for use
  • ADA handicap accessibility ramp was added to the front door

Here are some of the items on our “to-do” list

  • Finish temporary offices for Counselor, Speech, and OT/PT services
  • Add temporary walkways to and from relo village and to support entry and exit patterns of students to buses and parent pick up
  • Paint the parking areas
  • Complete temporary land scaping around new walkways

More safety items– The Positive Foundations Team met on Friday to make safety plans for operation in our “construction zone” learning site. We will continue to visit our safety plan throughout the year.

As construction continues at the Airport Height’s School site a big focus is shifting to the work that needs to be done to get the school ready for learning this Fall.

Turn on the water. One of the major projects this summer has been to bring all of the water lines and drains up to current standards. There has been no water at the school since the early part of June. This week, the construction crew will reconnect the main water line to the school, reattach any disconnected lines, pressurize and then sanitize the system so all will be working when our office staff returns to work on July 22.

Kitchen in a classroom. The temporary kitchen is moving to room 20. There is a lot of work being done here to not only prepare the room for this year’s  needs, but also to make it ready for renovation next summer. The temporary kitchen should be ready for equipment the first week of August.

Relo Village is nearing completion. This has been a huge part of the summer plan to get the school ready for students this year. The crews had to first clear and level the pad for the trailers. Then they had to bring in several tons of D1 gravel to make a solid foundation. Next, the relos were brought to Airport Heights from the project at Girdwood. Finally, the crews have been putting in utility poles and running wire to connect the buildings, the IT department is adding the network connectivity we’ll need to manage our programs, and the warehouse crew has been moving the teacher supplies into each teacher’s new location. We’ve still got to add steps. The temporary classroom will be available to teacher on August 12.

Parking lots, walkways, and trees. One of the most noticeable changes to the school is that the whole front yard has been removed for a new parking lot. If you drive by the school today, you’ll see a huge pile of gravel that will be used to set a foundation for the asphalt paving which is set for the 1st week of August. Yesterday, the construction crews were busy clearing another area in the back of the school for an additional parking lot. They had to remove 3 clumps of trees for the project (totaling 8 trees) and we anticipate that a few more trees will need to go before the project is complete. It looks pretty bare and open compared to the old wooded playground. Don’t forget that new trees and foliage will be added before the project is complete and that there used to be three relos out there too– that’s a lot of space that’s been opened up.

The work has also started to repave the playground track that circles the outside of the yard. The original plans had the track running through about 7-8 more trees. The construction team worked with the school district to reroute the track around most of these beautiful birches. In the end, we anticipate the removal of only three more trees to complete the track.

Raising the roof of the gym. The last update noted that the old gym was nearly demolished. The crews are now replacing the old spans on the roof. We will have temporary offices in place of the old stage this year– these too will need to be ready by the time our staff comes back in August.

Foundations for expansion. The foundations have been or are being poured for the new Lifeskills suite and the expanded kindergarten classrooms. The Lifeskills rooms will be completed and open for use in December. The Kindergarten rooms will not be renovated until Winter, but setting the foundation now will help the crews be able to comlpete these renovated spaces before the school year ends.

That’s all for now. I’ll post another update in about two weeks or as needed. As always, please let us know if you have any questions about the project.





Anyone who has been by the school can tell you that things are a little different at the school this summer.

Here is a brief update of what’s been going on and some answers to questions that have come from the neighbor hood.

The renovation work started as soon as the students left the building. In the intermediate wing the crews have been taking out all the old walls and fixtures, removing  asbestos and digging trenches for repair and renew the old plumbing system.

The school yard has seen a lot of work too. You’ll notice that the front lawn has been removed to make way for the new parking and parent drop of driveway. The playground equipment is all dismantled and stored near the hill. The workers had to remove two huge oil tanks that were buried near the school. (When the school first opened these tanks were used to store the fuel that kept the school warm in the winter.) We also have a giant gravel pad on the playground and 10 relo classrooms so that school can go on during the removation.

The gym has been completely stripped of everything except the floors and the stage is gone. (The stage will be turned into temporary offices for the coming school year before being converted to a gym office and storage area.

Questions from the neighborhood

1. When the movers brought the relo classrooms on to the site, they ran over the median on 16th Avenue. Will there be any effort the restore the plants that were flattened by the move?

Anything that is altered or damaged because of the construction will be restored by the time the project is complete in August of 2016. In this case, the relos will be coming out when the project is done, so, anything done to address issues caused by the move will be delayed until they can be permanently addressed. The best case scenario, of course, is that nothing gets damaged in the first place. The crews are taking precautions as work proceeds to minimize impact. Our project supervisor made sure that when the relos went in that as much of the plant life as possible would be protected. You’ll notice that the irises were not damaged at all and a little sapling at the end of the median was spared too.

2. Is there a new plan in place to move the medians on 16th for bus traffic?

There are no plans to change the city roads around the school beyond the initial, approved plan. They construction crew did need to change the entryway onto the Airport Heights site.

3. How many trees have been removed from the site? Will more trees be coming down?

10-12 trees were removed from the playground to make way for the new parking area, walkways, and relo pad. There is a possibility of 1-2 more coming down in the back.

All of the front yard trees are likely to be removed as the new parking and drive-through is right in the path. You can be sure that the final plans do include adding lots of trees and ground foliage to the site.

4. Can neighbors reclaim anything from the renovation like sod, downed birches, dirt, etc?

Aside from the disbursement of materials that are a part of contracts in the renovation process (for example the excavators have first right to the downed trees as a part of their fee structure), the rest of the renovation items are not likely to made available to the public for a coule of reasons. 1. Safety– The entire school site has been turned over to the contractor and they are responsible for the safety of anyone that  comes on the property. They cannot support the supervision that would be needed to maintain a safe work zone and allow the public access to the site to reclaim materials. 2. Timeline— The school is scheduled to be reopened for business in late July. The contractors focus is to get the job done as quickly and safely as possible. Again, they are not equipped with the resource to manage the distribution of salvageable items from the project.

Thank you.

As the project continues, we want to be sure and continue to articulate our gratitude to the neighbors and community of Airport Heights for your concern, patience, and willingness to put up with this project as we work to improve our school.

Let us know if you have more questions. I’ll try and get these updates out every few weeks to keep everyone up to speed with the project.

Here are some pictures of the work at Airport Heights:

diversityinschools1According to University of Alaska Anchorage sociology professor Chad Farrell, Airport Heights Elementary School is the 3rd most diverse elementary school in the country.  He defines diversity as the representation of different ethnic groups occurring in proportion to each other.   Find out more.

Diversity is a huge asset at our school.  In what ways could we strengthen our use of this resource?



19 schools slated for improvement

The 2014 municipal election ballot will include one Anchorage School District bond proposition. The $57.2 million bond package was approved for the ballot by the Anchorage Assembly last month and will be put before voters on April 1.

The Bond Vote is next Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Nineteen schools in Anchorage, Chugiak and Eagle River are proposed for improvements along with the ASD student nutrition building. The following is a breakdown of what voters will evaluate this spring:


  • Airport Heights Elementary School addition/renovation design and construction – $22.8 million
  • Planning and design projects – $5.9 million
  • Renewal and building life extension projects – $28.5 million


The bond proposition, if passed, would mean that the average Anchorage homeowner would pay roughly $4.86 for every $100,000 of assessed property value per year when including state reimbursement for the projects. Without state reimbursement, homeowners would pay approximately $13.86 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Airport Heights Elementary School

All schools on this proposed bond have been determined by the district to have the greatest need but Airport Heights Elementary School’s need is significant:

  • The school is in need of a multi-purpose room, and dedicated art, health and music rooms.
  • The school lacks sufficient space to support special education students with intensive needs.
  • Building mechanical, electrical, plumbing and control systems are in need of renewal or replacement.
  • Once improved, the building would serve the students and the community for the next 40 years.

Determining building needs

Two different tools are used to determine the necessity of funds and improvements for all ASD buildings. Schools on the recommended list are ones determined by the district as having the greatest need.

  • Facility Condition Index (FCI)
    The FCI shows deficiencies in building systems such as roofs, boilers, windows and similar items. This may be thought of as the physical condition of the building and its components.
  • Educational Adequacy (EA)
    The EA shows deficiencies in instructional capabilities such as teaching spaces, special purpose areas and other spaces. This may be thought of as the functional use of the building and whether the space is appropriate for the instructional activities within it.

Every year, the FCI and EA for each facility are updated to include the latest changes in building conditions. Reviewing these assessments allows the district to identify which buildings have the greatest needs.

image001Airport Heights Elementary School fifth-grader Denali Ray has been awarded a $500 grant from Katie’s Krops, a group started by a 9-year-old girl to end hunger.  Denali’s grant will enable her to build a vegetable garden and donate the harvest to the hungry.  She plans to build her garden on the grounds of Airport Heights Elementary School.  Her harvest will be donated to Airport Heights students in the Backpack Buddies program, which sends food home with children on the weekends.  She was also awarded a digital camera to document her progress throughout the summer.  Denali has been a member of the Airport Heights Garden Club for two years, and she also trained as a Junior Master Gardener with the Alaska Botanical Garden.

Here’s the KTVA Channel 11 clip from Mr. William’s Ginger Bread Village:


The Airport Heights Community can be proud of the turn out at last night School Board Meeting to support a $22 million renewal of the school. The next step is to seek the approval of the Anchorage Assembly and then the decision is up to Anchorage voters. cropped-DSC_0007.jpg

After delaying the vote a couple of weeks ago, the School Board voted unanimously to approve the ASD Bond Package, including the full renovation of the school. Airport Heights had many community members speak on behalf of the school. The major issues addressed were the need for a safer traffic flow (Sharon Cissna reported that the PTA was addressing this issue 30 years ago!) and the need for adequate upgrades to meet the demands of a 21st century education.

There is still a long way to go in this process. Next, the Anchorage School District will seek the approval of the Anchorage Assembly to include the Bond Proposal on the April ballot. Then the issue will be left to Anchorage voters.


The Airport Heights Renovation  and Renewal Plan will be considered at this Monday’s School Board Meeting. The bonding issue was delayed at the last meeting because the School Board needed more information about the project at Airport Heights.

The School Board meets on Monday, October 21, 2013 at the Anchorage School District Education Center.  If you are interested and would like to tell the Board what you think about this plan you can sign up to testify in person or by phone.

Here’s the link–> http://www.asdk12.org/school_board/testify/

Once the School Board has made its decision, the proposal will then need to be considered by the Anchorage Assembly. This is an extremely important decision that will have potential impacts on the community for many years to come.

AHES_Presentation_Site Master Plan


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